Into the Life of Leo Driehuys: How a Small Group of Part-Time Musicians Became a Grand Orchestra

The life of a musician is one fraught with challenges as they seek to hone their craft. Leo Driehuys had a promising career in Europe as an oboist and pianist. But he gave that up in exchange for leading the Charlotte Symphony and transforming it into a grand orchestra.

Bastiaan Driehuys was 9 when the family immigrated from the Netherlands to Davidson, and he recalls “that every conversation at dinner was how to take that orchestra to the next level.
“It’s a credit to my parents that the same spirit that led them to pick up and move from our comfortable existence in Europe led them to say, ‘Let’s go take this fledgling orchestra to the next level.’ They embraced every new challenge,” he said.
Transforming an orchestra came with challenges.
Charlotte Symphony violinist Martha Geissler, who joined the symphony in 1981, recalls that Driehuys was always pushing to attract and retain the highest caliber musicians he could, which sometimes meant he had to let weaker instrumentalists go.

In the 17 years he served as conductor for the orchestra, it grew and became renowned, going on a European tour and culminating in one of the grandest concerts they have ever performed in 1992 at the Belk Theater with other performances from Roberta Flack and Patti Lupone. He retired in 1994.

(Image credit: Bastiaan Driehuys)

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